Creating a marketing strategy takes time, knowledge, and especially requires a complete alignment with the business goals. But especially, the marketing strategy needs to be aligned with the product or service that is being promoted.
In this article, we will take a look at the differences between a product and a service, as each one has a different approach in how you market it, depending on the different uses it provides to the client.
We will also look into which types of promotion strategies are best for the company offering and how to utilize them to achieve the goals set forth.
What is a Digital Product vs what is a Service?
For a non-techy person, the difference might be a light grey, not easy to catch.
If we extract the concept of a digital product, then we find it’s not many differences from a physical one, and as Roman Pichler said, “I view a product as an entity that creates specific value for a group of people, the customers and users, and for the organization that develops and provides it.” So, the offer is a specific set of features that provide the customer with the solution to a problem. For example, your social media of choice, that’s a digital product. The calendar, the cellphone calculator: a product.
When providing a service, we exchange expertise and hours as a business transaction. So, for example, our job as marketers is a service we provide to our partners.
As we are talking about two very different kinds of deliverables, the way to promote them and reach their ideal audience it’s also equally different. Keep reading to find out how to promote one and the other.
The big differences
Promoting a Platform
Platforms offer a very specific set of features, and that is what the client is either looking for or needs.
Our job then, when a client needs to promote a product, is to show the right features to the right people. Who are their audience? Where are they? What do they need? And how does this product solve those needs? How do we need to communicate to reach those people? All these questions and more are the ones we answer when planning the strategy.
A common practice is to offer a free trial, if the client doesn’t find what they need, then they can turn the subscription down. At the same time, discounts per yearly subscription are a good strategy to build loyalty.
Promoting an eCommerce Business
When working with e-commerce businesses there are two different approaches to your marketing strategy. E-commerce companies have their business itself to promote along with the products they offer.
One thing can’t be considered without the other, especially if we’re talking about multi-brand e-commerce: the brand itself needs to have its own personality.
If we think of physical stores: Macy's, for example, has a very particular style, while Harrods, in London, although they both sell different products and brands, presents as an entirely different option. The same thing happens with e-commerce platforms: it’s important to keep in mind that the platform itself needs branding, promotion, and fight for the top-of-mind of their customers.
Promoting hours-base services
Digital services are on the rise. Outsourcing is not a new trend, but due to the pandemic, many companies have decided to take that road now. The thing is, in 2021 we don’t need to consider only the company next door, but the whole world offers talent and brains at our disposal.
So, how can we make a company based in Detroit, Michigan, trust us, a marketing agency from Montevideo, Uruguay? Or why would a tech company in San Francisco, California, choose a dev agency from Latam?
The hiring company trusts that in an x amount of time and for a y amount of money, the development team will deliver a product.
That’s where we recommend generating trust. There’re kilometers of distance, a whole different metric system, the set of beliefs is questionable as well. But a job well done can be measured the same way anywhere in the world, and what we do is prove that our clients are capable of delivering results.
Why Each Requires a Different Strategy
Although there are some popular tactics that most companies can perform to boost their marketing efforts, products and services don’t necessarily share the same strategy.
Maybe a social media platform works amazing for e-commerce, while it doesn’t go so well for a service provider. And sometimes it happens that an email marketing strategy helps boost sales for a special occasion, while at any other moment of the month it doesn't really kick-off.
Tools and tactics need to be chosen in function of the goals, and not because one platform is popular or a competitor is using it.
Here are some of the main differences when talking about promoting services vs products.
Different Budgets, Different Strategies
An important factor in building your marketing strategy is the client budget. For every strategy rather it's a product or service, there will be a budget to adhere to. The budget will be broken down depending on which ways are most effective. For example, an e-commerce company may find it more beneficial to use Instagram and Facebook ads to bring in clients. However, a software development company could have more difficulty selling through these channels.
The development company may find it more beneficial to promote through blog content that offers information for the customers to get an idea of the brand, value, and expertise offered. Even though you may find that one is more helpful than the other it is best not to put all your eggs in one basket. Spread out your strategy to multiple forms of marketing and utilize the ones that will bring you the desired results.
Inbound marketing is a type of promotion strategy that can be useful when it comes to services. For the past few years, it has been in the hype and many businesses wanted to transition to this content creation-based strategy.
Inbound marketing is the process of bringing the customer to you. This can be achieved through many ways such as writing blogs with helpful information or social media content that is engaging. The key here is to provide value to the customer to get them to engage first.
When it comes to gaining fidelity and positioning a brand as an authority, Inbound marketing is the best option. Also, this strategy takes time, requires a lot of people involved and content needs to be in constant promotion, and it doesn’t happen overnight: it’s so important to keep the client in the loop of progress, as many times happens that businesses get demotivated due to the slow pace an inbound strategy takes until it hits a home run.
In Sud Creative, we enjoy creating Inbound strategies: writing ebooks, articles, contacting external blogs, engaging on social media, and everything else. The thing is: not all of our clients have the time to build the bases of an inbound funnel, and sometimes they don’t either have the need to do it.
SEO & PPC
Another way to promote any product or service that is in high demand is by the use of SEO and PPC. These terms are used often when it comes to content creation be it landing pages or a company blog. PPC or pay-per-click is a more short-term game while SEO, or search engine optimization, is more of a long-term game. Each of these can be utilized to aid in the promotion of your product or service.
Both of these strategies use keywords, backlinking, and website optimization to help your business be seen in a keyword search. PPC is a paid option while SEO is not. A lot of people consider doing one or the other, however, both of these methods work best when they are used together.
For instance, if a company is running a promotion for their services that promotion can use high-level keywords in the advertisements that are also utilized on the website. These keywords allow potential clients to get a better understanding of what you have to offer and give your business more exposure to a greater audience.
Sometimes we need to answer if it’s really necessary to compete in a crowded industry.
Oftentimes companies don't know where to begin when promoting a product or service. The most important thing to know is your end goal. To reach your end goal, utilize the guidelines of the S.M.A.R.T Goals criteria. By using this guideline, any company can better align its promotion strategy and achieve the desired outcome.
S.M.A.R.T Goals are:
Specific - Here you want to take the time to get down to the details. What are you wanting to achieve? Why? How will you achieve it?
Measurable - Keep track of how you are answering these questions. Rather it is through recording data or having weekly or daily meetings to track progress and course-correct.
Achievable - Whatever you are looking to do you want to make sure it is obtainable. What is the possibility of reaching this goal? Is it something tangible?
Realistic - This goes hand in hand with achievability. Any goal that you set forth to go after has to be something possible within the framework mentioned above.
Anchored within a Time Frame - The time in which you take to achieve your goal is important. You may have a very limited amount of time to reach your goal or you may have more. What is a reasonable time frame you think it would take to reach your goal?
Each one of these steps must be tied to the other. You need each of these principles in place to make S.M.A.R.T Goals possible. Another consideration when working toward S.M.A.R.T Goals is understanding and considering each client's branding and style. The approach you take in the promotion strategy will depend on what your client wants to convey to their target audience. Their voice, principles, and overall way of doing business are an essential part of the marketing strategy as a whole.
Each client is unique and has a specific set of needs, that’s why even if we can use a general basis for most of the strategies, we still need to dig deeper to achieve each client’s specific goals. Knowing who to reach, when, how, and why will go a long way in an effective marketing strategy.
Selling a product requires a different approach to the trust needed to sell services. The marketing approach to both must be different, as the audience for each requires different inputs.
There’s no magical marketing strategy that fits all products, but each client (let it be a product or service) needs special care and attention to reach their goals.